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April 3, 2006

Flogging Blogging

Tempest. Teapot

Oh, my. Robert Scoble (http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/) and Shel Israel (http://redcouch.typepad.com/) did a talk about blogging at Amazon last week. They are the authors of Naked Conversations, a book supposedly about the benefits of corporate blogging. From what has come out in the blogosphere since, it appears that their message is "Blogging makes you money, every company should do it!!" hype. That went over like a lead brick with Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels (http://www.allthingsdistributed.com/), who already has a blog, just not a corporate rahrah one. He asked pointy questions, and apparently the two A-list bloggers thought he was rude and thus Amazon didn't "get" blogging.

The irony, it burns. Two self-congratulatory author types (yes, I know, it's redundant) can't back up their hype for a tough, cynical, audience, and thus conclude that the company didn't "get" their pet technology, when the toughest questioner already has a well established blog!

So the thing ripples, unto and past the point that Slashdot (http://slashdot.org/) posts about the tiff. Yes, it was a slow news day at Slashdot, apparently. Then the ripples get big.

Now, I think that these two authors should give Mr Vogels a great big thanks. You can't buy this kind of publicity and attention. Even if their book is pure bunk, this will have sold at least twenty more copies, just to people wondering what they're whining about!

Now, I've read some of their bog entries, especially about this, and I immediately get out my Buzzword Bingo cards. Too bad I'm not playing for money. I've also read a number of Vogels entries, about this and other subjects. Geeky enough to lose me, but realistic. Guess which blog made my links? Yep, the geeky one.

I've looked at some other of the so-called "A-List" blogs. I am unimpressed. Lots of hype and razzle-dazzle, not much real meat. Hell, the closest to A-List that I peruse on a regular basis is Post Secret (http://postsecret.blogspot.com/) - because it feature stuff from real, albeit anonymous, people. No astroturf.

Amazon & Blogging

So, about blogging at Amazon and subsidiary companies:

First, a lot of what happens "inside" the company is under NDA. Duh.

Second, a lot of what we do in many areas is maintenance and upkeep. Most of it is either very routine, or fixing the results of Murphy's Law in "overdrive" mode. This is common to any large company I've worked for. Not blog fodder.

Third, there is a constant re-evaluation and revision of technologies, so Amazon can deliver the best service in it's core business: helping people find what they want, and get it when they want it. That all happens on internally, not in public. It's often boring, and not remotely ready for the public. Plus the NDA issue.

Now, Amazon has a policy on external communications, just like any other company. Employees who blog, like me, need to make it clear that the opinions that we post are our own, not Amazon's, and we are not allowed to discuss anything not already in the public domain (or cleared to be released to the public). Also, lots of stuff is just not blog fodder.

Some companies, like A9 with Open Search, have official blogs (http://blog.a9.com/blog/) where technologies and relevant links are pointed out. But that is because it "fits" with what they do. I have links to some of them in my sidebar.

I personally do not think that people who are looking for things to buy are interested in the mechanics of the order processing and delivery system. I know I'm not, I just want my stuff. So Amazon.com itself doesn't really have anything to blog about! Now the authors featured on the plogs, and the creators of listmania lists, or people who submit reviews, yes, they have something to contribute - and there are mechanisms on the site to do it.

Blogging for blogging's sake is silly. A company being pushed to "blog" for nebulous, feel good, gains when they already have other content addition methods that are better suited is ridiculous.

Obligatory Disclaimer and Disclosure

I work for A9.com, a subsidiary of Amazon. I blog on my lunch hour, and after work. My opinions are mine (all mine!), not those of my employer. Amazon and it's subsidiaries have thousands of employees, each with their own viewpoints.

Posted by ljl at April 3, 2006 12:46 PM